by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Psalm 42:1-2 NLT
There are times when shouting out a prayer is all one can manage. Like when I was raising an infant … on three hours of sleep. Or when, upon hearing my daughter talking about doing oversea missions in India’s slums or communist countries. Or the day I was stuck in Atlanta with no money, credit cards, or ID (which was necessary to fly back home).
Shout out prayers, those, “Oh, Lord help me,” cries, uttered countless times throughout the day, are valid. Necessary. And at times, a woman’s only avenue to sanity. But if our prayer life continually resembles an elevator pitch, before long, our spiritual life will suffer.
Divine intimacy, the kind that fills up all the empty and broken places within and melds our heart to our Father’s, requires regular, unhurried communication. This is what I long for. What I hope for, and at times, what I intentionally move toward. But then life gets busy, I get distracted, and I slip into shout out prayers once again.
If I want to grow as a believer wife, mother, and friend; if I want to experience the deep joy and peace Christ promised His believers, I’ll make prayer a top priority—a habit.
Luke tells us about the events leading up to the birth of John the Baptist. He began by describing John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, stating they were known for their faithful obedience (Luke 1:6).
In other words, that was their main defining factor.
As a priest, Zechariah was chosen by lot to “enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense” (Luke 1:9 NLT). This would have been a sacred, intimate time between him and God.
But he wasn’t the only one who met with God that day. According to Scripture, while he was burning incense inside the temple, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
Prayer had become a way of life for these people, a habit that had been established over a thousand years previously. Before the exile, since the time of Aaron, the first Jewish priest, incense was burned twice each day, and whenever the people smelled its holy aroma and saw it rising heavenward, they prayed. Now, over fourteen hundred years later, the people continued that custom.
That kind of dedication and consistency often eludes me, because I get “too busy,” distracted, or sometimes discouraged, especially if it feels like God isn’t answering. Yet by the time Elizabeth and Zechariah came on the scene, God had been silent for 400 years! And I often find a few years of unanswered prayers difficult. This happens especially when I’m approaching prayer in a self-centered way, focusing on what I might get, rather than Who I can get to know.
Yes, God is faithful, generous, and attentive. And yes, He answers prayer and gives good gifts to His children. But the best gift He’s ever provided is that of Immanuel: Jesus Christ, God with us. Let’s not get so caught up in what we don’t have that we miss out on the beautiful gift of divine presence God makes available to us today.
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.
Drawing Near is a 90-day compilation by Wholly Loved Ministries. Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.
Join the conversation: What are some ways you refocus yourself on Christ? How have you made prayer time a priority? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!